German city evacuates skyscraper over flammable materials in aftermath of London blaze

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, 3:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, 3:12am

The German city of Wuppertal, citing raised concerns after a deadly fire in London, on Tuesday began evacuating about 72 people from an 11-storey residential building after it was found to contain flammable materials, city officials said.

Fire inspectors have reviewed Wuppertal’s roughly 70 high-rise buildings, according to spokeswoman Martina Eckermann, since the London fire, which killed at least 79 people.

She said officials had been concerned about this particular building since 2010, but decided to act now after seeing how fire could spread rapidly via a flammable cladding or facade.

“We know it’s a burden for residents to be moved without any notice, but we felt we had to act immediately since there are clear dangers to life and limb,” Eckermann said.

She said those residents who could not move in with neighbours or friends would be given other lodgings until the owners of the building replaced the facade, a process that could be completed in a few weeks.

Eckermann said it was unclear if the flammable material was similar to that used in the London building. She said the Wuppertal building’s fire escape routes also relied on external balconies that could not be used if the facade material caught fire, and it was too tall to use ladders for evacuations.

Every high-rise tested for fire safety in UK has failed, with 60 towers covered in flammable cladding

British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a national investigation into the cladding, used on facades of buildings mainly for insulation or to improve their appearance, after all those checked since the fire failed safety tests.